Heroic’s CEO Oliver Valsgaard talks Thunderpick partnership


Last month, Heroic announced an exclusive deal that named Thunderpick their exclusive betting sponsor across the majority of its teams. EsportsBets reached out to Heroic for comment on this landmark announcement and received a response from none other than Heroic’s CEO, Oliver Valsgaard.

Valsgaard was kind enough to share with us some insight into the fan-focused nature of the partnership and offered some high-level insight into why we’re seeing more and more teams embrace betting sponsors.

Heroic’s CEO Oliver Valsgaard talks Thunderpick partnership
Heroic’s CEO, Oliver Valsgaard – Image via Heroic

From your release, one of the key things mentioned was how the partnership with Thunderpick would enhance the experience of Heroic fans. Can you elaborate on that or give us any sneak-peak on what Heroic fans can expect?

Heroic’s CEO Oliver Valsgaard: Absolutely, one of the biggest things we look for when partnering with another organization is how we can give back to our fans and community – and this is exactly the case with our global partnership with Thunderpick too. Together, we’re going to be launching a new CS Community tournament series that wouldn’t have been possible before; not only will this new series be a full annual circuit, but we’ll also be hosting on-site physical meet and greets that bring people together in the real world as well as on the server.

We’re cooking up a few different things here at Heroic, and we’re always after partners who can match our fire and sense of humor. Tunderpick can do exactly that, and so we plan to really push our content to another level with them.

For many years, esports teams avoided fully embracing gambling sponsorships. Do you feel the general opinion on gambling sponsorships and partnerships changed, or was this just the right time?

Valsgaard: You’re right, betting has been a part of esports and gaming for many years, and it’s a vital revenue stream for the industry from a business perspective, but I don’t think the opinion of betting has changed much over that time, not to the point where it’s fully embraced. That said, like anything else, it can be a fun addition to your esports experience; but it’s also important to approach betting with a sensible head, just like in traditional sports.

A lot of fans have never gambled before and don’t know much about it as an industry, so finding an organization in the space that we can trust like Thunderpick, was important.

We wanted to find the right partner who put in the work to educate fans about what betting is; someone who has responsible gambling rules in place and educational initiatives to explain and teach how best to enjoy betting if it’s something you want to do.

This new partnership with Thunderpick comes just weeks before your new Dota 2 team heads to its first international LAN*. How important was this partnership, and sponsorships like it in facilitating a trip like that?

Valsgaard: As I said before, partnerships are a critical part of any esports business. From an organizational perspective, the revenue goes back into the machine and helps to keep the lights on and the staff paid, which is invaluable. In terms of the Thunderpick partnership specifically, DOTA2 is one of the most popular games in the world and gets a lot of viewers, so it made sense to have our partnership in place before we take to the stage

“We wanted to find the right partner who put in the work to educate fans about what betting is; someone who has responsible gambling rules in place and educational initiatives to explain and teach how best to enjoy betting if it’s something you want to do.”Heroic’s CEO Oliver Valsgaard on why now is the right time for a betting sponsor.

Can we expect to see some of the new exclusive content and merchandise drops around that event, or are things still a work in progress?

Valsgaard: It’s a little too soon to give you specifics. We’re cooking up some fun ideas and getting used to working together to find the perfect activations.
What I love though, is that Thunderpick has exactly the same approach towards fan activations, which includes a lot of gaming humor and comedy. It was obvious from our very first dialogues that the two companies – “just get each other” – so I know whatever we settle on will be awesome! Stay tuned!

Heroic is also heading to the Thunderpick World Championship 2024. The European Series #1 for that event starts in just a few days. Does having a connection to the tournament organizer create more pressure to win, or do you see it more as an opportunity for better engagement and to attract more fans?

Valsgaard: No not at all. The Thunderpick World Championship is a great event. We played it last year and it was a fantastic tournament. It’s honestly a really good thing to have new tournaments coming into the circuit and being recognised. The Thunderpick World Championship was already popular with fans; If our partnership happens to help build on that, then that’s awesome.

* These questions were originally submitted several weeks before ESL One Birmingham 2024 

Heroic is a Norwegian esports organization that competes in CS2, Dota 2, Fortnite, Sim Racing, and other titles. One of the top global esports organizations, Heroic has a near decade-long legacy within esports, and recently partnered with Thunderpick as their exclusive betting sponsor. Their next major event will be ESL One Birmingham 2024, where their Dota 2 squad will compete against 11 other teams for a portion of a $1 million prize pool.

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